Clinton names free-trader Tim Kaine as her running mate

Having safely secured Bernie Sanders' endorsement on the left, the Democrat chooses a centralist as her running mate.

Hillary Clinton has named the strongly pro-free trade Tim Kaine as her running mate.

Mr Kaine, regarded as a centralist, is a senator for Virginia, a state that has voted Republican for eight of the past 10 presidential elections. 

The Virginian is a mixed bag — a Harvard-educated civil rights lawyer who is a traditional liberal on some issues but also a committed Catholic who personally opposes abortion, a "friend of Wall Street" who supported looser regulation of credit unions and a senator with a solid grounding in foreign policy — an area where he has at times been at odds with the Obama administration as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

It seems with Bernie Sanders' July 12 endorsement having safeguarded her left flank, Mrs Clinton has felt emboldened to ignore the Sanders camp's darling (Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren) and instead take a punt on Mr Kaine in a bid to appeal to independents and NeverTrump Republicans who might otherwise plump for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson (the former Republican Governor of New Mexico who has garnered an average 8.3% in recent 4-way polls).

Mr Kaine was one of a tiny number of Democrats to support enabling legislation for the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. He says he sees "much in it to like" in the trade agreement though has also voiced reservations about some provisions, including the expanded rights of corporations to sue governments. His broadly free market views overall will doubtless come under attack from the protectionist Donald Trump. 

Through his time as a Catholic missionary in Honduras, the senator is also a fluent Spanish speaker — something US media say will help Mrs Clinton with minorities (although it seems fair to say Mr Trump was already trailing with Latinos).

The Kansas-born Mr Kaine describes himself as "boring", but seems to possess an agreeable dose of self-effacing humour ("Boring is the fastest growing demographic in America," he recently quipped). And in a joint appearance with Mrs Clinton, he was confident working the crowd.

With Mr Trump having opted for social conservative Mike Pence, and Mr Kaine securing Mrs Clinton's nod today, the veepstakes are over. The US electorate now faces the farcical prospect of a vice-presidential debate where two pro-trade candidates defend their running mates' protectionist policies (although admittedly that prospect rates quite far down the crazy scale amid the craziest election in modern times).

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